Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

Tooth decay is an age old problem that has affected generations of children and adults. Tooth decay is preventable, we just need to understand what causes it so that we may then prevent it from occurring.

Tooth decay is caused by a bacterial intrusion into the tooth. The bacteria feed on the buildup of food debris on teeth. The bacteria then secrete acids which breakdown tooth enamel. Once the acid forms a hole in the enamel, the bacteria can then enter the tooth and progressively breakdown the tooth, causing a cavity.  Understanding this process is critical to maintaining oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Best Tips To Prevent Tooth Decay

-Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene. This is the first step to preventing tooth decay. Proper dental hygiene should include, brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Toothbrushing should be done at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Brushing more often during the day will enhance your dental hygiene. Flossing should be done at least once a day (preferably before bedtime) but it can also be done more often.  The goal in dental hygiene is to not only keep down the amount of debris in the mouth but also to keep the environment from becoming acidic which will allow bacteria to more agressively break down teeth causing tooth decay.

Use of an antibacterial/fluoride mouthwash (such as purple listerine)is often overlooked but is also important. These oral rinses are designed to decrease cavity causing bacteria in the mouth while utilizing fluoride to strengthen enamel against breakdown. If brushing and flossing is done properly, use of an oral rinse should complete the protection against tooth decay.

-Sugarless Gum. Sugarless gum is important because it stimulates salivary flow. The increased saliva in the mouth will help to keep our teeth clean. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against oral bacteria. Choose a sugarless gum with xylitol. Bacteria can not feed on xylitol, because it cannot be metabolized. This helps keep the acid levels lower. Xylitol has also been shown to help remineralize our teeth’s enamel.

-Maintaining Proper Nutrition. Choosing foods and drinks wisely is important to your overall health as well as your dental health. By eating properly, you are able to keep your body as healthy as possible allowing your body to fight off any attack. The best snacks for your dental health include raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Avoiding sugar is not always an option so it is important to minimize the damage. Apples are actually the perfect snack for dental health as they act as a tooth cleaner and whitener. They are able to clean your teeth by the abrasive action of the skin and hard inner surface of the apple, malic acid in the apple helps to remove surface stain and keep teeth whiter. You can actually squueze juice from an apple and mix it with baking soda to brush on and whiten your teeth. So next time you are looking for a midday snack pick up a shiny apple.

-Drink Fluoridated Water. While fluoride is a controversial topic for many. It has been proven time and again to protect our teeth from tooth decay. Fluoridated water is important for children to drink. The fluoride becomes a permanent part of the tooth when it is consumed during tooth development.  Drinking at least 16oz of fluoridated water each day will help prevent tooth decay. Another option is to use a supplemental fluoride prescribed by your dentist.

-Dental Sealants. Many believe dental sealants are just for children but that is not so. If an adult has no tooth decay on the tooth in question nor any previous dental restorations a sealant can be placed and be effective. A dental sealant is designed to cover the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars. This keeps the grooves of our teeth from developing tooth decay. In many of us, these grooves are quite deep and are an inherent weakness in the fight against tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay is preventable with diligent dental hygiene and maintaining regularly scheduled dental visits. Maybe in the future, we can eventually wipe out tooth decay . Until then, we need to follow the steps above to maintain good oral health.

Diet plays a big role in the maintenance of our teeth and gums. Many people are unaware of what foods are bad for our dental health. Did you know that carbohydrates are really just sugars in disguise? Luckily, our oral bacteria is unable to properly break down complex carbohydrates. However, simple sugars (monosaccharides) and links of simple sugars (disaccharides) can be broken down. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria break down these sugars producing acid as a byproduct. The acid sits on and between our teeth dissolving our teeth causing tooth decay.

Sugars That Cause Tooth Decay

-Sucrose. Also known as common table sugar (also sometimes called saccharose). Sucrose is found in most candy, is the sweetest of all the sugars, and is broken down by Streptococcus Mutans.  S.Mutans is able to uniquely break down sucrose into dextran. Dextran acts as the glue for the bacteria to stick to teeth as well as act as a reserve food source for the bacteria. This glue makes dental plaque stickier and harder to remove. Sucrose is found in sugar cane, maple trees, and sugar beets.

-Fructose. This sugar is found in nature in many fruits (berries, melons) and root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes). Fructose is not as sweet as Sucrose. Where Fructose becomes a problem for our teeth is when it is concentrated as high fructose corn syrup. At that point it becomes far sweeter than sucrose, sticky, and easily broken down by bacteria to cause decay. High fructose syrup is widely used due to its cheapness and its liquid form. Low cost makes it far easier to use in many commercial products.

-Glucose. This is the main energy source of our body. All of the other sugars ingested are broken down into glucose by the body. Glucose is broken down by bacteria as well and will cause  our teeth to decay.

-Lactose. Also known as milk sugar. It is found in many dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheeses). This is one of the rare sugars that is not sweet to the taste but it can still be broken down by our oral bacteria to produce acid in our mouths and lead to decay. In infants, milk left pooled in the mouth by sleeping with a bottle, can cause decay and thrush.

-Maltose. Commonly found in bread, rice, cereals, and beer. Beer is especially dangerous as it contains sugar and is acidic. A detrimental combination for our teeth. Maltose, like lactose, does not taste very sweet.

Avoid Sugars?

Avoiding sugar in today’s modern world is quite impossible for many. As you can see above, sugars come in many forms and in a variety of foods. The key as always should be to take in sugars in moderation, and use thorough oral hygiene techniques. It is important to note that sucrose, has little nutritional benefit. Sucrose (white table sugar) should be ingested in moderation. Lactose, natural fructose, and maltose are found in products important to a good healthy diet so they obviously will not be avoided if we wish to be healthy.

Tips to Minimize Dangers From Sugar

-Moderation. Ingest sugars in moderation.

-Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. If you are eating lots of sugar be sure to brush if you can immediately following to remove and dissolve the majority of the byproduct acids. If you cannot brush, rinse thoroughly with water following eating sugars, and chew sugar free gum.

-Drink Water. This will lessen effects of acidic attack on our teeth.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, most of us are not going to hold to a strict sugar free diet so it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. This is doubly important for children who tend to eat more candies than  adults. As always remember to visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Tooth decay (also called dental cavities or dental caries) –  The destruction of the surfaces (dentin and/or enamel) of a tooth and infiltration of bacteria into tooth structure. Tooth decay results from the action of bacteria that live in plaque. Plaque is a sticky, whitish film formed by bacteria and food debris which adheres to the pellicle (a protein layer on the tooth surface). The plaque bacteria sticking to tooth enamel breakdown the sugar and starch from food particles in the mouth to produce acid.

Only Cake, Candy, and  Sugary Drinks Cause Tooth Decay.

Myth, but it’s almost a fact.

Guess what sugar is? You guessed it a carbohydrate. White rice, french fries, bagels, chips and fruits are all carbohydrates. The stickier the carb, like white rice, caramel, or fruit gummies, the longer they stay lodged between teeth and stuck in grooves. The truth is that the acid produced by the bacteria while breaking down carbohydrates is what causes tooth decay. The bacteria makes the acid when you eat anything with carbohydrates that stick and stay on your teeth. The resulting acid melts through the strong outer enamel and allows bacteria to enter into the inner layer (dentin). The bacteria are not visible to the eye, and the breakdown is slow and steady forming a hole, better known as a cavity.

An important fact to know: It is not the amount of carbohydrates you consume that end up causing tooth decay, but the length of time your teeth are exposed. If you eat a high amount of carbohydrates for lunch, that’s one big exposure. But if you spend the day sipping sugary drinks, chewing on gummy bears, sucking on tic tacs, that continuous exposure is far more unhealthy for your teeth. Dentists have a saying, “sip all day and get tooth decay“.

All Dental Restorations Need to be Replaced Every Few Years.

Myth.

An amalgam or composite filling needs to be replaced only if it breaks down or a cavity forms around it, or if the tooth breaks or fractures. If none of those problems occur, you can keep the same filling for quite a long time. Most dental restorations do have a life expectancy but it depends on each individual. Tooth wear due to clenching or grinding, diet, and dental hygiene habits,  play a huge role in how long these restorations last, some last more than 50 years! Maintaining proper oral hygiene and maintenance  will help your dental restorations last longer.

Once You Get a Tooth Capped, the Tooth Can’t Decay.

Myth.

A Cap or a crown covers and protects underlying tooth structure. However, the area where the crown edge ends and tooth is not covered ( the margin), is where bacteria like to stick. It is the least smooth part of the tooth, and where bacteria can break the seal between the tooth and crown. Once the seal breaks, bacteria can move up and under the crown to slowly breakdown tooth and root structure. A dentist always checks margins around teeth to try to find breaks in margins, however, when breakdown occurs in between teeth it is harder to detect and  usually decays much further before it can be detected on an x-ray.

When You get a Root Canal, the Roots are Removed and the Tooth Can’t Decay.

Myth.

A root canal treatment does not remove roots, what is removed are the nerves, blood vessels, bacteria, and debris from inside of the roots. The dentist then fills and seals the roots with a rubbery filling and sealing paste. This prevents bacteria from re-entering a tooth. Once the root canal is completed, the tooth should heal, and usually be covered and protected with a crown to help prevent cracking. Tooth decay can happen, just as in any tooth.

Children are more prone to Tooth Decay than Adults.

Myth.

Advances in pediatric dentistry have allowed us to cut childhood tooth decay in half over the last 20 years. These advances include sealants, fluoridated water, dietary consultations, and preventive care. As we see advances in pediatric dentistry, and decreases in tooth decay a different population has had increases in tooth decay. Seniors have an increase in cavities due to an increase in advances in pharmacology, limited dexterity, insufficient professional cleanings, and dry mouth. Many medications have a side effect of causing dry mouth which increases the risk of tooth decay.

If You Have Tooth Decay, You Can Feel it.

Myth.

Tooth decay may or may not cause any symptoms. Everyone and each individual tooth varies in it’s pain threshold. The pain associated with tooth decay may be detected very early in some and when it is in a more advanced stage and is actually causing damage to the nerve in others. Allowing tooth decay to progress untreated can and will lead to much more expensive and extensive dental procedures, like root canals and oral surgery. That’s why regular dental examinations are so important.

Teeth can only repair themselves when initial enamel breakdown is occurring, and the bacteria have not entered the dentin. Some enamel can repair with natural calcium remineralization and some can harden and repair with fluoride . Persistent bacteria will cause a cavity to forms which will continue to grow and progress into the tooth, eventually working its way into the dentin and then the nerve of the tooth.

Cavities Are More Likely Between Teeth.

Fact.

Any place in the mouth where you cannot reach and bacteria can hide is a place for tooth decay to form. That is why brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial and fluoride rinse (such as Purple Listerine) are so important. They allow you to reach areas brushing alone cannot. Flossing is one of the few ways to get in between teeth and properly avoid tooth decay between teeth.

Chips and Cracks in Teeth Lead to Decay.

Fact.

Cracks and chips in teeth can create a hiding place for bacteria and make those areas more prone to tooth decay. Using a fluoride rinse can reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Sensitive Teeth Means You Have Decay.

Myth.

Tooth sensitivity could just mean you have hypersensitive teeth, or gum recession has exposed some root.

You could also have a cracked or broken tooth or could need a root canal. There are many things, including tooth decay, that could lead to sensitive teeth. If your teeth are sensitive you should schedule a dental examination to make sure it is not something serious.

Cavities Are the Only Reason for Root Canals.

Myth.

Root Canal treatment is caused by a variety of things including tooth decay. Root canal treatment is needed if the nerve inside a tooth is damaged which can be a result of decay or trauma.  Trauma can result from accidents, grinding, clenching, biting into a very hard object (piercings, hard candy, etc.), ice chewing, etc.

You Don’t Need to Worry About Cavities in Baby Teeth.

Myth. 

Baby teeth are needed to hold the space for permanent teeth. Also, tooth decay in baby teeth can develop into serious pain, dental abscess and serious infection. On occasion the infection can spread to other parts of the body and has even caused death if left untreated.

Brushing, Flossing, and Rinsing and a Healthy Diet Is the Best Way to Prevent Cavities.

Fact. 

Definitely. Preventive dentistry is the key to staying cavity free. The bacteria must be removed from the teeth.

Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, and floss and rinse daily. Antimicrobial rinses target bacteria, reducing plaque, bad breath, and the severity of gingivitis. Rinses with fluoride make teeth more resistant to tooth decay. If bacteria are removed daily from every area of your tooth. Eat healthy foods, and limit exposure to carbohydrates.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

There are many misconceptions about what causes tooth decay and what doesn’t. The facts remain, A healthy diet, and proper oral hygiene will not only help you prevent tooth decay, but keep your whole body healthier.

Dental Hygiene is one of those things in life that takes just a small amount of time to give great benefits to our teeth and overall health. Luckily for us, there are some great dental products out there today that can aid us  in achieving the goal of good dental hygiene. It all starts with brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once per day. Consistency is the key to maintaining good dental hygiene.

Best Dental Products

1) Automatic Toothbrush. An automatic toothbrush is able to reach places that most manual toothbrushes are unable to. Another advantage of an automatic toothbrush is that they help prevent wear that aggressive manual brushing causes. Most automatic toothbrushes have a timer on them. This ensures that you are brushing for the proper amount of time. An automatic toothbrush is especially helpful for patients with limited dexterity either from age or disease. There are two types of automatic toothbrushes:

-UltraSonic Toothbrushes. These toothbrushes can generate between 30,000 and 40,000 brush strokes per minute. By comparison, manual toothbrushing can only generate 300 brush strokes per minute. The bristles also rotate in the recommended back and forth motion needed to clean teeth and gums properly. Another plus of these sonic toothbrushes is that they have a patented cleaning action that actually directs fluid between teeth and below the gum line to gently remove plaque and food debris.

-Electric toothbrushes. These toothbrushes can generate between 3,000 and 7,500 brush strokes per minute. Generally these brushes work by rotating in a circular motion. Some even have a dual action with pulsating motion added in as well to facilitate plaque and food debris removal.

Although individual designs differ, the bristles in the brush head are typically either set in a circular format that rotates (the entire head rotates in unison) or individual tufts of bristles within the brush head spin independently. Some electric toothbrushes have both a rotating as well as a pulsating motion to help remove plaque and reduce gingivitis.

2) Water Irrigators with Periogen. the most common being the waterpik ultra. Most people do need these to aid in dental hygiene (especially those with bridgework, implants, and braces). The irrigation helps to stimulate blood flow to heal gum tissue, remove hard to reach food particles, and get up to 6mm into a periodontal pocket. Recently a new product has come to market called Periogen. Periogen is a unique product in that it is an oral rinse that removes tartar buildup between professional cleanings. The waterpik aids in getting the periogen oral rinse below the gum line and in between teeth.

3) Disclosing Solution. This is generally used for kids but can apply to adults having trouble keeping their teeth clean. The disclosing solution is used as a rinse and it will color the plaque and food debris on your teeth making what you normally miss during brushing very visible. You are able to then remove  any residue of color remaining and know what you need to do next time. Its a great visual tool to really make a difference in your oral health.

4) Flossers. While there are many new flosses that do a great job (such as reach total care), many patients do not floss regularly. Luckily, a product has been developed called a flosser( such as reach access flosser). Makes cleaning between teeth as easy as can be.  These are also helpful for those with limited dexterity as well as children.

5) Tongue Scrapers (also called tongue cleaner). This will allow you to remove food debris, fungi, dead cells and bacteria that builds up on the tongue. The benefit of this will be better breath. Decaying bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds on the rear of the tongue.  These molecules account for about 85% of all cases of halitosis (bad breath). Scraping your tongue every night at bedtime can alleviate your bad breath.

Dental Hygiene Conclusion

There you have the top picks to aid in your dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is something that must be done consistently every day to have its greatest benefits. As always see your dentist for regular dental examinations as well as professional cleanings to keep your mouth healthy. Having a clean mouth will lead to a healthier you!